Opinion: Why was there no referendum on a fee increase?

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Yesterday, the student-run Tuition and Fees Strategies Committee approved a university-wide $4 per-credit-hour fee proposal to pay for the new Business building, as well as maintenance and renovations for other academic buildings.

The Collegian reported “the $4 per-credit-hour fee proposal includes $1 million per year for maintenance and renovation of academic buildings and $900,000 for the College of Business Administration building.”

While the university does have an obligation to pay for the $15 million project that is the new Business building, why was nothing brought forward to the student body?

Much to his credit, Jonathan Peuchen, a non-voting member of the committee and SGA senate speaker, said students’ opinions should be considered in the matter. “If we’re going to be doing big projects like this, we ought to have a referendum of students, to me it would seem,” Peuchen said.

But that credit only goes so far because there was no referendum and an afterthought of seeking one does little to change the disappointment I have in some of our SGA leaders.

I was under the assumption that the SGA represented the student body in all matters. It’s slightly difficult to see that as true when our opinions aren’t taken into account on such an important issue: how much we pay for our education.

The bigger question I have with all of this is why are students – most who aren’t taking more than one or two business-related classes during their time at K-State – now having to foot the bill for this new building? If the university, under the leadership of former President Kirk Schultz, did not have the funds to pay for this project without raising student fees or tuition, then it should not have been constructed.

This proposed fee increase comes at a time when students are already facing a possible $10 per-credit-hour fee increase for any class taken through the College of Arts and Sciences — regardless of your major — and engineering students may simultaneously see a per-credit-hour fee increase of $25-$38.

Yes, part of the fee does cover maintaining and renovating other buildings, but that is not a cost that we students should be settling to cover. We should not be picking up the bill because our Governor refuses to raise taxes and instead wants to cut funding to higher education to pay for the debt troubles he created.

Education is the most important infrastructure any government or society can invest in and we need to be telling our representatives this every single day.

If your parents are paying for your education you probably don’t think twice about this stuff. But as someone who works two jobs most of the year to pay for my education — and I know a decent portion of the student body does as well — this is incredibly infuriating. These increases don’t seem like a lot now, but added up over time they surmount to astronomical costs.

I encourage everyone to write down their thoughts on this new fee increase and submit them to the Collegian. We serve as your voice when it cannot be found elsewhere on campus and we would be happy to share your opinions on this issue.

Caleb Snider is a sophomore in public relations. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Collegian. Please send comments to [email protected]

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  • Guest

    Caleb, it’s good to hear your concerns. One clarification: the decision to commit university resources was a decision made unilaterally by then-President Kirk Schulz. Student Government was not involved in this decision, nor were they consulted within a timely manner. It’s nice to point fingers, but unfortunately those decision makers are no longer at the University. Everyone, from students to administration agree this is not ideal and we want to move forward in a better way in the future. At the end of the day, at least we have a nice $55 million building to look at as we write the $4 check, we could always have the check and no building.